Coronavirus: Ten tips in the run-up to Golden Week

The whole of Japan has been under a state of emergency for at least a week, but the number of coronavirus cases is rising by the day both in major cities and rural areas.

The coming week brings the start of the spring holiday period known as Golden Week, in which people traditionally travel abroad or go to resorts. This year, officials are pleading for self-restraint.

Officials in the seaside city of Kamakura, near Tokyo, say they've seen a rise in the number of visitors in recent weeks. On the weekend after the state of emergency was expanded nationwide, the traffic was bumper-to-bumper on a road along the shoreline.

The mayor of Kamakura says the central government's stay-at-home request has not been enough to deter visitors, and it could get worse during the holiday period.

The road along the coast of Kamakura
The road along the coast of Kamakura was congested last weekend.

On Wednesday, two weeks after the government declared the state of emergency for Tokyo and six prefectures, a panel of experts met to assess the effectiveness so far and draft advice for the coming weeks.

They acknowledged that they don’t yet know whether contact among people has been reduced by the target of 80 percent.

At a news conference after the meeting, Omi Shigeru, the vice chair of the panel, said that the number of people visiting city centers has decreased, but that more people are visiting open spaces such as parks.

Omi said people let their guard down on the national holidays in March, and that helped to spread the virus to local areas. He said he is concerned that if similar movements occur during the coming holidays, it would speed up the spread of the virus.

Omi Shigeru
Omi Shigeru, the vice chair of the government panel of experts.

At the meeting, the panel came up with ten tips for reducing face-to-face contact to the 80 percent target.

Those tips are:

1, Avoid returning to your hometown during the upcoming long holidays and use a video chat link instead.

2, Go to supermarkets alone, or in a small group, during less crowded hours.

3, Go jogging in small groups, and choose less crowded times and locations to visit a park.

4, Do any non-urgent shopping online.

5, Drink at home and use the internet to connect with friends and colleagues.

6, Use the internet for remote medical consultations instead of visiting a doctor.

7, Do training and yoga at home using videos for instruction.

8, Make use of take-out or home delivery food options instead of dining out.

9, Work at home, and limit commuting to occupations necessary to maintain social functions, such as medical services, infrastructure and distribution.

10, Wear face masks when holding a conversation.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, who is in charge of anti-coronavirus measures, told reporters that the government will take every measure to reduce contact between people by 80 percent. The state of emergency is effective until May 6, and Nishimura said the government will consult with experts to decide what action to take after that period.